back to article Huawei's P9 flagship: There's a lot to Leica

"Samsung should be very concerned at what Huawei might be demonstrating in two to three years' time," I wrote in 2014, prompting some derision. Fair enough: Huawei didn't even have a 4G phone at that time. The consumer division hasn't even turned five. But who's laughing now? Huawei has cracked it with the P9, a phone strong …

  1. David 132 Silver badge

    Still copying Apple...

    That bezel, as seen in the final picture, reminded me very much of OSX10.2.

    Yes, I'm trolling just a little bit, I'm aware that Apple can in no way claim exclusive ownership of the concept of horizontal pinstripes (but I'm sure they'd try).

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Still copying Apple...

      Those windows, seen in your screenshot, reminded me very much of what Xerox were doing in the 1970's.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Still copying Apple...

        Also lined paper which has been around since before the 1970's.

  2. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Same price as a Galaxy s7 but with a lower resolution screen and less RAM is my rather simplistic summary.

    1. cambsukguy

      Well, it only seems reasonable to point out that the dual Leica camera thingy almost certainly costs more and is a USP for the product.

      ISTR the S7 is waterproof, which this one isn't I presume.

      So, more choice really.

      Neither is for me, they are quite expensive.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Exactly cambsukguy, we have bought phones in the 100€ - 200€ range for the last couple of generations. They are fine and last 3 or 4 years. I did buy the Lumia 950, as an exception to that rule, but unless something radical happens in the market, it will be the last mid-priced phone that I buy.

        The high end, expensive phones often don't get support for 2 years, let alone 3 or 4 years, so they just aren't worth the extra money over the cheaper devices.

      2. Antonymous Coward

        I'm afraid that premiciously branded "USP" smells like bollocks...

        "exceptionally strong sensors, with 1.25-micron pixels (smaller than Samsung's) letting in more light."

        ...either the author has been quietly indulging an impromptu ischæmic event, or he's mindlessly C&P'd marketese at us. Whichever it is, it's obviously utter crap.

        Another sponsored infomercial?

  3. Youngone Silver badge

    So, more choice really.

    Neither is for me, they are quite expensive.

    Nor me, quite expensive, and the screen is too big.

    Choice is good though, and I am happy to continue using my 2.5 year old former flagship which works quite well enough.

    The nice Leica camera would tempt me, but I own a DSLR for real photography.

    1. Captain Queeg

      Dual sensor - Interesting!

      I own a DSLR too, but I do like having a decent phone camera along as I don't always want to carry even my mirrorless - currently I carry an iPhone 6 Plus and find the camera more than good enough for what I use it for.

      I wasn't really tempted by the monster pixel-fest Nokia put together, but this dual cam set up (particularly post shot focusing) really does appeal. This might be the first Android handset I'd seriously consider buying. I'm not one for removable battery or SD card (though I appreciate others are) but the camera IS a big part of my buying decision and this seems to be more of a innovation than we've seen in the last 4-5 years. Thiner, Higher resolution, more cores, etc., all seemed iterative, but for me this is a departure.

      I'll be interested to read the full review. It will be good to understand the handling and how the new camera presents itself in terms of UX,

  4. Slx

    I have the Huawei built Nexus 6P and it is a really nice device with very good built quality and specs.

    The Huawei watch is stunning too.

    Where Huawei goes horribly wrong is with their own software. If they just bundled raw Android they would be far better of. Their skin / overlay and tweak of Android doesn't add anything.

    That being said, I would say the same for many of those overlays. Also, as Android has become increasingly slick itself, it's really fairly pointless to keep overlaying it with these kludges.

    1. Chika

      Where Huawei goes horribly wrong is with their own software. If they just bundled raw Android they would be far better of. Their skin / overlay and tweak of Android doesn't add anything.

      Agreed. I've had a Huawei Honor 6 for a little over a year now and while it is a pretty good phone, especially compared with some of the junk I've used in the past, the biggest gripes I have are the infrequent upgrades (I've had two in total since I bought it despite all the scares regarding Android in that time) and the insistence that they have to make Android look like Apple or Windows - I can switch between the two settings but without downloads/serious hacking I can't make it look like what it actually is!

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      You've saved me a review. Only now with the P9 you can't switch to another launcher.

      Phew. I'll see you in the pub.

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Screen is too small

    I have a Nexus 6P and it's confirmed what I've felt for ages - map apps need a 6" screen, especially for driving directions

  6. frank ly

    My misunderstanding?

    "But the second sensor is no Ernie Wise: they're identical and exceptionally strong sensors, with 1.25-micron pixels (smaller than Samsung's) letting in more light."

    Surely, larger pixels 'gather' more light and hence have better S/N ratio. Have I become confused between dual sensors and dual lenses? I think I see two camera lenses side by side. I'll wait for someone to explain ............

    1. DryBones

      Re: My misunderstanding?

      I believe they're going for noise averaging. Since the views should be almost the same, one trick is polling the values for both cells with a predetermined position shift to line them up, doing some maths on them and getting a clear result. Same reason you get antenna arrays, etc.

      Oh, wait, the size issue. 1.25um x 2 > 1.4 um?

      1. Random Handle

        Re: My misunderstanding?

        >I believe they're going for noise averaging.

        More to it than that only one sensor is colour - in the press release they say it's colourblind Ernie which is letting in 300% more light than full RGB Eric. Don't think it's a reference to the pixel size at all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My misunderstanding?

          If the sensors were the same, could you use it to take 3D pictures? Maybe need to move them further apart?

    2. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: My misunderstanding?

      One sensor is for colour and the other is monochrome. The software merges the two images and you can alter the focus afterwards.

      1. Random Handle

        Re: My misunderstanding?

        >The software merges the two images and you can alter the focus afterwards.

        Partly true - though bad reporting all round I think - the mono sensor improves low light performance - the 300% more light is as much down to coating/filter difference - IR I would presume - but details are not-specified in the release.

        1. Soulhand

          Re: My misunderstanding?

          The 300% is because a monochrome sensor doesn't need a Bayer filter. Each "pixel" on a colour sensor is in fact four - one for R G B (and another for G because there are four in the square and they might as well use it for something)

          So if you're just using it for black/white, no need for the filter. and all four sensors can be used - hence 300% more than one

  7. Daniel Hall


    "....Earlier P series models were priced £150-£200 (US$212-$282) below Samsung and Sony flagships. You got less for your money, but paid a lot less.

    The P9 will be priced at €599 (US$683) for (3GB/32GB and the P9 Plus at €749 (US$854)"....

    Why do you first show GBP and USD then literally in the next sentence show EUR and USD?

    I know we can go and convert it ourselves, but, isnt that your job?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That's the beauty of android, don't like what your vendor did with the ui, just install Google launcher, Google keyboard, or Nova launcher...

    As for all the comparisons to iPhone,.. Since when was the iPhone 6 the benchmark for anything?? Samsung sell more sony xperias are better.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Software

      Unless Huawei have changed something since the P6, that doesn't work. Google's own launcher doesn't understand Huawei's "semi-soft" buttons and fucks up the screen aspect ratio.

      Having said that, I like Huawei's skin[1]. Unless you have hundreds, rather than tens, of apps installed, the "all in one place" thing seems better.

      I'd almost be tempted to buy one of these, were it not for the OnePlus Two[2] and the significant price discrepancy......

      [1] Although I've binned all their widgets off it.

      [2] Still the best I've played with and as soon as you consider price, the best full stop.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AC


  9. Yugguy

    Might not be quite as good as the mainstream

    But in a way that's the not the point. Phones like these are rapidly closing the gap with the likes of Samsung and Sony and when they do close it, they'll be as good, if not better, and cheaper.

    I don't see a reason why I'd go premium ever again.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Might not be quite as good as the mainstream

      Thing is it may not yet be quite as good as the mainstream, (the UI is awful, maybe even branding had to get a replacement phone after losing mine in Asia, the phone shops were all pushing Samsung as the familiar Android option) but the price of this phone is definetly at the rivalling S7, Iphone 6 price range. I thought Huwaeis advantage was that they were nearly as good for a decent saving, not sure nearly as good as the rival but the same price is going to cut it.

      I agree with the pricing comments as well, these phones are getting near the same price I paid for a PC with a decent 27" monitor, need to replace my lost Z3 and at the moment can't see any phone that would justify me spending more as a significant upgrade.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Might not be quite as good as the mainstream

        Edit:Doh reading Euro price when priced it against PC.

  10. Jan 0

    You neglected to mention that this is a dual-SIM 'phone.

    Now that sparked my interest a little more than the Summarit lenses. Apple please take note!

  11. banalyzer


    My Jolla was on it's last legs and I went looking for a replacement running Sailfish because I quite like it. Cheapest I could find was 650GBP which is about 350 more than I paid for the Jolla.

    I looked around and came across the oneplus 2 which did catch my interest especially since it's only 250 notes.

    For the money I am very impressed by the hardware, the Android overlay, OxygenOS, is reasonably light without anything actually getting in the way. As far as I can tell the only things missing from a 'high' end phone is the NFC and IR neither of which I require, others might I don't.

    I find that, on a personal basis, it's become very difficult to actually justify buying a phone that costs more than about 400GBP.

    I cannot see the difference between the P9 and 1+2 that's worth nearly the cost of another 1+2, It may just be the fashion, I've never been good at fashion.

  12. Unep Eurobats

    Mi5 is not a misprint

    Dude u can puts (sic) afterwards to clear that it not an other El Reg keyboard snafu.

    More punz on Leica plz.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leica must be getting desperate

    Tying your name to a peddler of Android landfill doesn't seem like a great way to ensure the long-term success of a luxury brand.

    1. Slx

      Re: Leica must be getting desperate

      Huawei are trying to reposition at the moment.

      Samsung and LG were seen as a poor imitator of Sony not all that long ago, how that has changed!

      That's why Huawei is pushing out all these very high quality devices.

      I really dislike this trying to clone another OS vibe to the software on Huawei though. Android is very, very good and well established. I quite like iOS, but I think Huawei attempting to make Android look like iOS is absolutely pointless and it's quite a poor imitation of iOS too.

      I mean, seriously who wants Android skinned to look slightly more like an iPhone!? It's about as sensible as trying to make a Windows machine look like OS X. They're both fine operating systems, but they're quite distinct.

      Samsung went through a phase of this in the early days of the Galaxy S too and have only really been standing on their own two feet for the last few versions as a really stand-out product.

      Hopefully Huawei sees the success of the 6P and goes with more Android-centric approaches.

  14. davefb

    4g on huawei

    "I wrote in 2014, prompting some derision. Fair enough: Huawei didn't even have a 4G phone at that time. " . Well that's confusing, my Ascend P4 was bought as '4g capable' on Three and worked perfectly well on 4g when they got round to upgrading the service.

    Bought it june 2013.

    Only just replaced it tbh.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: 4g on huawei

      There was no P4. (Tetraphobia)

      The P6 (2013) maxed out at 3G

      The P7 (2014) supported LTE/4G.

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